SCALE 10x Musings

I’m currently on a flight home after attending SCALE 10x, which seemed like an opportune time to reflect on the event. SCALE was once again an amazing event. Kudos go out to Ilan, Gareth, Phil and the entire SCALE team; the tracks were excellent, the event well managed and well attended (I don’t know if official numbers are out, but I believe they fell *just* short of their goal of 2,000 attendees) and the social scene was as vibrant as ever. SCALE really is the bar by which local community events should be measured.

While I didn’t live blog the event this year, as I have in the past, I did live tweet it. Visit the @linuxquestions twitter account if you’re interested. Some general thoughts after attending SCALE.

* Open Source and Open Standards, as they pertain to the cloud, are going to be huge and hotly debated topics in 2012; and likely well beyond. There seems to be a feeling that this is something huge that’s still just in its infancy, and that makes the topic interesting and exciting.
* Big data and distributed filesystems also appear to be heading for widespread mainstream adoption in the near future. On that note, LQ is considering moving away from OCFS2 as part of our next infrastructure update. If there’s anyone with GlusterFS experience in a production web environment, we’d be interested in hearing from you. We’d also be interested in other solutions you feel may be well suited.
* The MySQL ecosystem is not only thriving, but wildly more diverse than when it was just MySQL AB.
* Very small but very powerful devices such as the Raspberry Pi and the Pandaboard are not only remarkable, but should open the door to a whole new class of devices and possibilities. The amount of innovation here should be awesome.
* DevOps has really matured at an impressive rate.

I look forward to attending SCALE 11x, which will be my 8th, next year.


Panel: Measuring Community Contributions (Liveblog)

Joe Brockmeier – OpenSUSE
Jono Bacon – Ubuntu
James Bottomley – Novell
Dan Frye – IBM
Karsten Wade – Fedora

* Don’t always associated “contribution” with “code”.
* People tend to contribute things that are of value to them – they are scratching their own itch.
* Measuring community is very new and is not an exact science. There’s still a lot to learn and we’re still making mistakes.
* Having a clear answer to “how do I get involved” is very important.
* The first mistake companies often make when they try to enter the Linux community is an attempt to push things upstream as-is and in a way that only benefit the company.
* Audience question: It seems most mainline kernel development comes from the developed world. Why isn’t more coming from India, China and other developing countries?
– Dan indicated that some IBM’ers are actually effectively contributing from BRIC countries, but admits that we can do a much better job here.
– Some of this is an infrastructure problem, which is already being worked on.
* Audience question: Is there a way to objectively measure contribution?
– Intuition is our starting point, but we’re moving toward reverse intuition.
– Fedora is using EKG –
– Every project focuses on different aspects and different items are important to them.
– Measuring community started out very informally, but as we mature we’re being much more rigorous and scientific in our measurements.
– Deciding _what_ to measure can be difficult.
– Measuring for the sake of measuring is senseless. Getting data that is useful is very important.
Audience question: is anyone measuring the way people are mentoring?
– Generally yes, but it’s vastly different for each project/community.


Where have all the community managers gone?

Jay Lyman points out a trend that I’ve noticed as well (not just in terms of headcount, but in general resource allocation). From the post:

However, as we have seen open source vendors trimming headcount just like many other companies in search of controlling costs and weathering the storm during recent months, community managers seem to be on the line among the layoffs. It’s not surprising to see these positions — which bridge commercial and community open source and tie vendors to their developers and users — thriving when times are good and companies are willing to invest in community, but suffering in difficult times, when the community may seem a less critical investment. This can be particularly true as vendors look at their sources of revenue and consider cuts wherever they can outside of that.

However, as we covered in an interesting discussion of the value of community on our last CAOS podcast, there is opportunity in sustaining an open source community in difficult times, even though it may be less of a revenue producer and more of an investment given users, developers and other community members are even less likely to be paying. Don’t get me wrong, there continue to be key people serving as community managers, and I invite them to chime in on whether or not they’re seeing colleagues on the block. Still, we’ve seen more than a few community-centered positions among the layoffs from open source vendors.

In the end, open source vendors that are willing and able to continue building, strengthening and investing in their communities — and we do see vendors catering to community users and even monetizing them via per-incident support, documentation and other services — are the ones who will benefit most when things begin turning around.

It’s the last paragraph that I’d like to underscore and reiterate. Let your community atrophy at your own peril. When things turn around, and at some point they certainly will, the companies who continue to foster and grow their communities will be in a much better position to benefit. It’s easy to forget this when the going gets tough, but as with most things you shouldn’t lose focus on mid and long term success even when short term issues change the game.


The Art Of Community

I just came across the announcement that Jono will be releasing a new O’Reilly book called Art Of Community.

Today I am proud as punch to announce the Art Of Community.

A while back I was approached by Andy Oram, a senior editor at O’Reilly to write a definitive book about how to grow, build and energise a community. This book will be called the Art Of Community.

The book covers a wide range of topics designed to build strong community. This includes the structure and social economy behind community, building effective and easy to use infrastructure, setting up community processes, creating buzz and excitement, governance, conflict resolution, scalability and more.

This book is much more than merely a textbook on building a compelling community. I believe that we learn how to build strong community through the exchange of stories and experiences. We all have great insight into community. These stories are illustrative vessels for important lessons and subtleties in how great communities work. The Art Of Community is a compendium of stories, anecdotes and experiences inside and outside the Open Source world.

Congrats to Jono and O’Reilly on an idea that I think has a ton of potential. As someone who runs a little community myself, the content of both the book and the website are something I’ll keep a close eye on. One thing I’ve learned about community is that the rules are always changing; you always have new things to learn, new ideas to implement and places to improve. I think that’s one of the reasons that after over 8 1/2 years of running LQ, I remain as excited and dedicated as the day I started it.

There’s one other part of the announcement I think is of note:

The release of Art Of Community is actually rather exciting. The book will be available in two forms.

* Firstly, there will be a normal printed copy available to buy. This will be available from the usual places you can buy O’Reilly books.
* Secondly, The book will also be available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. This provides everyone with the opportunity to share, modify and re-use the content.